What a terrible shame. The genius that is Rik Mayall has been taken from us. Mayall will be known for his TV roles in The Young Ones, Bottom and Blackadder to most, but to me, his excellent work in Drop Dead Fred reigns supreme. For this reason, I say Hit-Play on the manic movie...
Isn't it funny how this film, whilst massively dismissed as rubbish by critics when it was first released, has attracted a very loyal following of people who hold it very dear to their hearts - isn't that basically the definition of a cult film? Why? The special effects are terrible, it's basically a "breaking into the USA market" vehicle for Rik Mayall, and Marsha Mason looks exactly the same in the "21 years ago" flashbacks as she does in the current time-line.
Phobe Cates is fantastic in this film. She reacts to Mayall's familiar but still funny "Rik" routine in the sweetest and cutest way. The comic timing of both is excellent. Check out her expression when she asks her mother to "sit down" after Mayall has just delivered his "Cobwebs" line... Adorable.
Some people perhaps read too much into the film when they see it as a study of schizophrenia, but then again you can't help think that underneath the zany comedy, the writers are subtly giving the film a deeper edge. The scene that really hinges Elizabeth's descent into madness is when she finally despairs of her cheating husband's hopeless ways ("I'm scared to be alone") by Fred, who beckons "come with me" with a very creepy invitation to succumb to insanity.
This is a movie that was made for people who are still in touch with their inner child, people who realize that a little girl with a mother who has absolutely no understanding of the mind of a child has every right to escape into the world of an imaginary friend if it will help her escape the grayness and responsibility imposed on her by her mother, who demands absolute perfection and hasn't the first clue about how to raise a child.
Drop Dead Fred is a movie that was made for fun, to be enjoyed, laughed at, and respected for reminding us that we need to lighten up occasionally and, while not necessarily flinging spaghetti in a nice restaurant, act like children every once in a while to prevent ourselves from being driven insane by the fast-paced society that we live in. And if you can't do that, if you hated Drop Dead Fred because you simply can't understand that concept, if, indeed, you think that Elizabeth is in dire need of psychiatric care, you may want to step back and look closely at your life and your views.
P.S. Carrie Fisher will always be remembered and associated with Star Wars, but she is a superb comedy actress. "But didn't Elvis kill himself?", "Yes, but before that he was really interesting!"... Superb!
Thank you Rik, you defined a generation.